New information revealed about LMPD Explorer investigation

Updated: Jul. 18, 2018 at 7:40 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - New information was revealed during a two hour grilling session at the hands of Louisville Metro Council Members regarding an Explorer Program investigation sanctioned by the Mayor's Office.

Several council members seemed to have issues with how the investigator, Kerry Harvey, a former U.S. Attorney, put his report together.

During the hearing Harvey revealed he was first contacted by Louisville's Deputy Mayor, Ellen Hesen, asking him if he would take the job. When questioned by Councilman James Peden, Harvey stated he and Hesen had a previous working relationship while they worked together under Governor Steve Beshear.

That seemed problematic for Peden, as Hesen would later be questioned about her knowledge of the investigation and whether she was relaying that information to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

>>> RELATED STORY: City probe into Explorer Program scandal nearly triples in cost

Hesen communicated with Harvey, as we confirmed through open records, several times during the course of his investigation. She would also later be interviewed by Harvey as he tried to determine who in city government knew what, when.

Harvey refused to answer our questions about his relationship with Hesen, or anything else.

Councilwoman Angela Leet also told us she found the relationship problematic.

"To find out at a later time that undisclosed relationship existed, it's simply not full disclosure," Leet said.

We also learned during the hearing that Harvey was part of a meeting with the Mayor, the County Attorney's Office and one of the investigators in March 2017. That was before he'd even signed on to the contract with the city. Part of that meeting, council members pointed out, was for the county attorney to determine what kind of liability the city would have.

"It just feels to me like, if nothing else, he would understand from the people in the room with him that their desire would be to find a way to limit any liability that Metro may have," Councilman Kevin Kramer told us. "I followed that immediately with, 'Okay, so who are you responding to, who are you working with if you're independent, who are you independent of?'"

Harvey was adamant that he did not participate in any conversations in relation to limiting the city's liability. He stated the purpose of his presence was to listen to a presentation given by one of the investigators. He said he was glad to be a part because that would be the only time Harvey would be able to speak with that investigator.

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Harvey was also questioned about his communications with the Mayor's Office. Council members stated per their contract, Harvey was supposed to communicate with the city's auditor. However, Harvey indicated he spoke to the Mayor's office instead, giving Hesen updates. He never spoke with the auditor.

Harvey made a passionate statement at the end of the hearing, stating any claims that he was directed towards portraying the investigation in a certain way are false. He states his investigation was independent of any dictation from the Mayor's administration.

During the hearing, Harvey was also questioned about why officers did not communicate with him for the investigation.

As part of Harvey's report, he stated Fraternal Order of Police intervened, preventing their interviews.

That's something FOP President Nicolai Jilek said is not true.

He explained state law makes it illegal to compel officers to talk to a non-governmental agency by fear of termination. In fact, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad told officers via a memo, that they would be subject to termination if they did not cooperate with Harvey.

"I was dismayed when I read the Harvey investigation that seemed to blame to the FOP for a lack of cooperation from LMPD officers," Jilek told WAVE 3 News. "The Chief's office's attempt to compel officers to be interviewed by Kerry Harvey violated Kentucky state law and we were simply trying to hold the city to that state law and protect the police officers' administrative due process rights afforded to them by KRS 67C.326. The FOP also feels it was disingenuous to make that assertion and continuing to blame the FOP for impeding his investigation."

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Jilek wanted to make it clear that this was an administrative investigation, not a criminal one.

Upon learning officers were being threatened with their jobs, the FOP filed initial legal action to make sure the city was abiding state law. City attorney later agreed that Harvey would not interview any police officer.

He also noted that nothing prevents LMPD investigators from compelling statements for administrative investigations. If the city wanted statements from officers, they could do so through a PSU interview, he explained.

He further stated police officers never give official statements on ongoing investigations.

Now, council members are waiting to receive a timeline of events from their own attorneys which was mistakenly omitted by them before they handed over the redacted report.

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